Photo by: Edward Saenz

With Matt Jaffe: of Matt Jaffe & the Distractions

Playing the New Songs Live:

We’ve been playing these songs for about a year now, so for our core audience, it’s unique only in name. But we’re really proud to offer this record. We feel it captures our sound better than previous recordings, and it gives listeners a good blueprint for the live show. I’ve always felt the record is an advertisement for the show, instead of the other way around, so in that sense there aren’t any added nerves, though I suppose in this particular instance, we’re hoping the show will be an advertisement for the new record.

Inspiration Behind the New Record:

The main new ingredient in the mix is a strong undercurrent of American roots music. While our first EP relied heavily on power pop / rock pop textures, the new album draws from folk and country. We hope to find the middle ground between Hank Williams and Joe Strummer. In addition to finding the right balance between roots and punk, we have a lot of songs that explore narratives and places more than our old music did. Telling stories is at the heart of folk music, and conveying the feel of life in California is at the heart of the album.

Lessons Learned From Touring with Blues Traveler:

We learned to treat every show like a make or break opportunity. It’s easy to allow a lackluster audience to dampen your own energy, but I learned that you can’t allow the immediate reaction of an audience to constrain you. We didn’t know when we’d get to play venues like that again (The Fillmore, Irving Plaza, etc.), so we treated each gig like a special occasion. Even now, as we’re playing some smaller rooms again, we commit to generating the energy onstage. Ideally, there’s an energy feedback loop between audience and performer, but it has to start with us, and we get better at that with every gig.

I think we’ve found a new level of confidence. In the past, I’ve had doubts about our output, if we’re appealing to the right people. We always tried to toe the line between different audiences and artistic directions, which kind of compromised the music. Now, I understand that we need to make the records we want to make. We need to play the shows we want to play. We need to write the songs we want to write. If we do these things with integrity and purpose, we’ll have a much easier time finding the proper audience. You can’t consider your audience before you make the music. The music makes the audience. We don’t want to burden ourselves with expectations during the creative process.

Looking Forward to Most:

I’ve been writing some songs with a songwriting hero of mine, Chuck Prophet. His songs are incredible. I’m looking forward to collaborating more with him and learning how to develop my craft further in the process.

~Matt Jaffe Bay Area, 2016

Photo by: Edward Saenz

Matt Jaffe & The Distractions Record Release Show & Free Holiday Celebration at Sweetwater Music Hall (19 Corte Madera Ave, Mill Valley, California 94941). All Ages — Doors at 7:30 — Show at 8:00. Get tickets here:

New record: Fire On The Freeway is OUT NOW

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Article in collaboration with Jeff Gorra — Artist Waves.

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